The Wellington Phoenix’s best squad ever have started their campaign on a rocky note, succumbing 2-1 to the Perth Glory yesterday.
I’ll give my thoughts on that encounter later in the piece, but let’s just rewind. “Best squad ever?” you ask, sceptical after another underwhelming start to the season.
Well, that’s right. This is their best squad ever. Just ask the good people of the Yellow Fever Forums.
Hey, even David Dome is on board!
It’s settled. Surely the 2014 squad is the best Phoenix outfit of all time, because why would they hype up for the Phoenix optimistically before the season? That’s never been done before, right?
Ok, fine. So the fans got a little swept away with the 2012 squad. At least the media weren’t buying into the hype.
Still, what is two years, really. At least we weren’t hearing tales of glamour before 2011, because that’d just be embarrassing.
They might have had a case in 2009.
(Do I need to go on?)
The good news is – just wait for 2015. It’ll truly be the BEST NIX SQUAD EVER!
Nathan Burns and Michael McGlinchey
I was impressed by both players yesterday, especially Burns, who made a real case that he should be the starting number nine, showing off some good speed to go with his incisive cuts and off-ball movement, threatening running and quality link-up play. Although he’s not your typical big workhorse striker, neither is Jeremy Brockie. His finishing could clearly do with some work, but for a debut showing, I was impressed.
As for McGlinchey, although I was flummoxed by the idea to put him on the wing, the gameplan can work efficiently if he is still willing to move inside to receive and direct possession, leaving more physical players to do the bulk of the tackling in midfield, something Riera in particular did superbly.
There were mixed reviews of the new import midfielder, and it is probably a fair response based on his up-and-down performance. Although he was a bit sloppy and aggressive at times, I liked his workrate, with his ability to showcase as a box-to-box midfielder fully on display. With a bit more controlled passing, Bonevacia could fill the hole vacated by Tim Brown.
Ernie Merrick’s substitutes were truly a mystery to me. Taking off the impressive Tom Doyle and replacing him with Louis Fenton while chasing the game raised eyebrows, but bringing on the defensive Vince Lia for Alejandro Gorrin once the game was level seemed unnecessarily negative, especially when Bonevacia was running around like a madman trying to get himself sent off. Keeping Brockie on for nearly the entirety of the game when the game (and my prediction) was calling out for Roy Krishna was also, in my far less credentialed view, an err in judgement.
Is it asking too much for the Phoenix to ever have a player able to take effective corners? Although McGlinchey’s free-kicks were threatening, his corners failed to get past the wall of Glory defenders, an ever-common trait for the Phoenix. However, he did get it past the first man on occasion, so positivity and hope remains!
On the other end, a problem I pointed out in my analysis of the Phoenix’s defence remains – with Mitch Nichols coming close to lashing home a ripper after the Phoenix again failed to fully clear a set-piece. Whether it be closeouts or poor first attempted clearances (or just a reality of defending), it may pop up again as a problem.
Although I’m not really one of those people who has a crack on Twitter about the Phoenix’s SKY commentary, there were some pretty laughable calls from the booth yesterday. First Jeremy Brockie was compared (seriously) to Kun Aguero, before Harry Ngata sang the praises of Tyler Boyd and his pace as an option off the bench, which would be a great shout if he were actually on the bench.
Until next week.
Hamilton raised, Niall Anderson now halves his time between university studies in Auckland and catching up on all things Waikato football in the Tron. Having covered Waikato FC and WaiBOP United in the ASB Premiership, Niall is also the lead writer at nzhoops.co.nz. Find him on Twitter @NiallGunner.